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A graphic novel with contributions from Darko Macan, Brent Anderson, Igor Kordey, Jan Dursema, Dave Gibbons, Dusty Abell, John Nadeau, Martin Egeland, Kilian Plunkett, and Rafael Kayanan (2001, Dark Horse Comics)
25 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Friends recount Chewbacca's heroic and deeds in a memorial to the fallen Wookie.



3 stars

Read September 14th, 2001  
    This was a story that was written from the heart. It contained all the required emotions, from love and compassion, to respect, guilt, and sorrow, from friends, enemies and loved ones. It is just too bad that the art was so poorly done.

The stories area all somewhat related to each other. At least, they all know that Chewie has died, and how he died, and they sometimes mention things that happened in others of the stories. This is a good thing I think, because even that little show of continuity strengthens the book. 

Through it all, Chewie is shown to be a formidable opponent, but a loving friend. It sort of contrasts with the "coward" that Han called him outside the Death Star trash compactor, or the Wookie who thinks with only his stomach in the forest of Endor. Peter Mayhew, the actor inside the Chewbacca suit in the original trilogy, wrote the curious introduction. He mentions that he read through the comics, but I don't think he did. I also don't think he really knew the way that Chewie died, and so didn't mention it. But he did show a lot of love for Chewie, through several memories, desires, and hopes. It is curious that he says there is no violence in the comics, because many of the stories had lots of violence. 

The tribute and memorial to Chewbacca takes the form of ten stories, told by people who are interviewed by C3PO and R2D2. The two droids are quite subdued, even the normally chipper and naive C3PO. 

The first tale is from Chewbacca's widow, Mallatobuck, and tells of how Chewie rescued her from Trandoshan slavers. The trandoshan (like Bossk from Empire) have always been the arch enemies of the Wookies, and they have had the Empire's support. It is a romantic tale where Malla throws juicy bugs at the male wookies (this is a courtship ritual), and hits the wrong one, making him think she is interested in him. It is only when Chewie rescues Malla, jumping over the railings to kill the last slaver, that they realize they are meant for each other.

Chewie's father, Attichitcuk, tells of how Chewie settled a duel with an albino Wookie who was very bitter, and who thought using claws in a duel was a more honorable thing than not using them. He picks on Chewie because he wants to marry Malla. For some reason, probably just to diffuse the situation, Chewie says that sure, the man can have Malla as his wife, even though she obviously wants Chewie. But the albino is not satisfied, and attacks Chewie, who flips them over the railings, down, deep into the jungle. Chewie leaves the albino at or near the forest floor, where being white is not such a good idea...

A later chapter is also from a Wookie point of view, that of the albino's father. Being from different clans, and especially after Chewie killed his son, there was a clan feud between them. But when Trandoshan slavers took all the children from the rival's village, Chewie used his own ship to rescue them, then, when the Imperial ships arrived to pick up the cargo, he stayed on the slaver ship as a decoy, so that the Wookie children could get to his ship. A young Imperial pilot named Han Solo (who looks really smart in his flight uniform) boarded the craft, and refused to shoot Chewie, getting the wrath of his superiors. While this may have been the way it happened, I can't believe the Star Destroyer would have left without destroying both Chewie's ship and the ship Han and Chewie were on, leaving no loose ends. The situation didn't feel right, at all, probably because I always felt that Chewie was actually a slave at the time, not a rescuer. But it was told well, so that makes a difference. 

There is another tale from a former bounty hunter who lost her ship to somebody who said he wanted to be her partner. Instead, he had her climb into the engines to check on a "fault" and turned them on, leaving her for dead. The other people she had done business with left her, also. But Chewie came along and got her to a 2-1B droid for medical attention, and she survived, thanks to him.

The tale from a slaver shows respect for Chewie, as he used to use Wookie clans to keep his prisoners in check, because they hated each other more than they hated the slavers. When Chewie was caught, he told them their logic was twisted, and they banded together to overcome the slavers. The slaver was dismembered, but he grew back scrawny limbs, and he is proud to be the sole survivor of the enraged Chewbacca.  Considering that we have never heard of Wookie clan rivalries before, I find this most curious, and I pretty much disagree with it.  But it is now "canon", so I have to accept it.

I was surprised to see how Leia was wracked with guilt. She tells of how she often wished Chewie would go away, because she knew she always had to share Han's love with him. She feels terrible about it now, especially since her kids are gone away to be Jedi. I don't know why she was dressed that way, because she is no longer the head of state. she keeps talking of her role as a princess, but I think the artists misinterpreted the title. Leia doesn't dress up in stately robes like that anymore, unless she has changed her ways by becoming ambassador to the outer rim, as is suggested at the end of Vector Prime

My favorite story has to come from Wedge. It turns out that once he took off in an air speeder (before they were snowspeeders), with Chewbacca hanging onto the bottom. Wedge had misinterpreted the Wookie word for "no" when he asked if the speeder was ready to take off. Imperial pilots crashed into each other at the sight, and Wedge finally let Chewie off onto the top of a TIE fighter, where he wrestled command of it and landed full of wrath towards Wedge at the rebel base. It was really funny, and as Wedge tells it, he used to laugh at the story; no more. 

But I think Luke story was the best one told. It shows us the images of Chewie's demise, which makes it more real, and seems to be better written than in Vector Prime, where it actually happened. Anakin, of course, was knocked out after rescuing that child, and Chewie threw him up to Han, but a gust of wind and quakes drove the Wookie and the Millennium Falcon apart. And then the moon filled everybody's view, so Anakin (who had woken up again enough to pilot the Falcon) was forced to leave. The art was best drawn here, though Luke looked hideously deformed. I don't know why he was drawn that way, when all the other people, and Chewie, looked normal. The technology, however was drawn superbly. 

The last tale comes from Han. The tale is pretty pathetic, but it is told with great emotion. Chewie rescues Jaina as a young child when she wandered off into some interior droid factory, where a droid thinks he will be reinstated as Emperor. But when Chewie destroys the droid, it blows up, and Chewie makes it out just in time, with Jaina on his arm. No background or explanation is given for the droid, though it is possible I missed some obscure reference from one of the other short stories out there. But the drawing that young Jaina made of Chewie, along with Han's line that he never told the big guy that he loved him, were very poignant. And the way the story opens, with Han bickering to himself and calling out to the absent Chewie about hair in the filter, was just heartbreaking.

In Malla's story, the art was pretty nice, but the page layouts were way too simple, laid out in a grid formation. The Wookies looked cool, but the trandoshan were just awful. They looked nothing like they are supposed to. There is also nothing special in the artwork in Chewie's father's story. The wookies look deranged, and Chewie looks nothing like himself, even at a younger age. When dealing with the slaver, the trandoshan finally look better, and I liked the artwork and coloring, as well. The layouts finally get more interesting, and there were nice details in the background. Somebody went to a lot of trouble for this one. 

Chewie's rescue of the ex-bounty hunter was rather good, but nothing special, either. There were no extra details, only the main characters, and bright colors. Chewie looked like a sasquatch! Some of the best art occurred in the stories about Han's first meeting, and from Wedge's story, though Chewie fared better in the former. These are the two that involved starships, so I guess that is to be expected. The colors were especially cool, sometimes vibrant, but always just right. The last three stories had some really good coloring also, but poor character drawings, and only the art in Luke's tale stood out. I was not too impressed, really. 

The worst story comes from Lando's point of view, after he and Chewie had been captured by Imperials on some obscure planet. Chewie was forced to fight a machine, and after he beat it (by reprogramming it's leg to override the terrifying personality -don't ask), he forced Lando and the Imperial governor to fight. When they won, the Imperials evacuated the planet, grateful to leave. The art and the story were pretty bad, and there was really no substance to it.

And that is always the problem with short stories, isn't it? They are never long enough to have substance. They can tell small plots, but unless we see the emotion, like in Leia's story, then we can't really get much out of it. As usual, some were enjoyable, others were not. But almost all of the ten stories carried some great emotion for that Wookie. Whether it was love, compassion, guilt, laughter or loneliness, it got through even the short lengths of these stories. The look on Han's face at the end was gut-wrenching, and Luke's story of Chewie's fall (gleaned from flickers of images and emotions from Han and Anakin through the Force) was very emotional. 

We also get a little peek at the universe as it stands now, especially from Luke's point of view. We see the Yuuzhan Vong for the first time not on a book cover, and we know that Mara is still fighting the disease. As Chewie's father put it, how can a mere moon defeat him when he had that kind of strong and courageous personality?  We could perhaps expect him to return, like Boba Fett did in Dark Empire (or The Mandalorian Armor -but I'd rather forget that book).

Doubtless Han will be mourning him for a long time to come, and will fall into tears when he discovers more hair in other filters and baseball caps. Even though most of the art was not to my liking, there were enough stories to make this a fitting tribute to our favorite Wookie.

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